I found this most interesting post at Roger Olson’s site, and I’d like to discuss it here:
Would you distinguish “Christian” vs. “saved”? (Now this is not about inclusivism and universalism but about those who believe in orthodoxy and those who don’t, and if they are not orthodox then their beliefs are not Christian … but is orthodoxy denied a loss of salvation?) But this raises two questions: Can a person be Christian [in theology] but not saved? Can a person not be Christian [in theology] but still be saved?
According to the brochure [Roger Olson is talking about an evangelist], sent out to thousands of people, including many pastors, Jesus is not God and should not be worshiped as God. And there is no Trinity. Only the Father is God and should be worshiped. This is a new belief the evangelist has come to hold; he apparently grew up in and for a long time belonged to a Oneness Pentecostal church. Of course, he does not belong to it anymore.
As Christian theologian, I sometimes find myself needing to answer the question “Is this person a Christian?” I’ve been asked that about Rudolf Bultmann and Paul Tillich (in the past tense, of course) and about Hans Kung. A former colleague and I used to argue about whether Kung is a Christian or not and I insisted on keeping the decision focused on his Christology.
I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that the evangelist of the brochure is not a Christian.Having said that, I must immediately go on to explain that my claim he is not a Christian is NOT to say he is not saved. Whether a person is saved or not is entirely God’s business and not mine or any person’s (other than God’s).
This is why the distinction between “Christian” and “saved” is so important. And I don’t just mean it in the sense of “Christian” as a nominal term to designate membership in a Christian church. Almost everyone recognizes the distinction between “saved” and “Christian” when the latter term is used that way. (Everyone has heard and agrees with the old adage that “Just because something’s in the garage doesn’t make it a car!”)…
So what makes a person a Christian? What makes a person saved? As I said, the latter is God’s business but he has given us some guidelines in his Word. I believe anyone who confesses Jesus Christ as Lord, risen from the dead, and puts his or her trust in him for their salvation, and who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith, is saved. (I don’t insist that a person call his or her spiritual life a “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” That’s what I’m calling a life of devotion to Jesus Christ.)
Having said that, I personally withdraw from making decisions about whether a person is saved or not; that’s God’s business and between the individual and God.